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Old 10-28-2010, 07:08 AM
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Originally Posted by techinspector1
You have the measurements of the front and rear track on your truck. Use those measurements to find a suitable donor car or truck. The wheelbase of the donor will not matter. We're going to use only the front and rear clips out of the donor. Ford Junkie was thinkin' Chrysler. Take a look at the Dodge Dakota pickup. The Gen I Dakota (narrower track than the Gen II truck) was made from '87 to '96 and the '91 to '96 used a 318 V8 as an option, so everything would be set up for the "A" motor of your choice, 273, 318, 340 or 360. There will be no need to fabricate motor mounts or moving the motor to the passenger side to miss the steering or any of the other contortions usually associated with a frame/clip swap that isn't well thought out beforehand. Of course, once you have your hands on a 360, a 408 stroker kit is only a phone call away.

Now, here is where most guys mess up on a clip swap. They fail to secure the suspension at ride height before welding the clip to the center frame portion. In other words, with weight on the suspension, the control arms are at a certain angle compared to the ground. For instance, if you get up under a Dakota that is complete and running around on the street and put an angle finder on the bottom control arm, you might find that it is level with the ground. But once you cut the clip off the front of the Dakota, there is no weight on the torsion bar and the lower control arm is no longer level with the ground. So, what you want to do is lay an angle finder on the lower control arm of a running, driving example of the donor you will use. You will also want to record the angle of another part of the front clip on the actual frame member front to rear, so that you can repeat that angle when welding your donor clip onto the recipient frame that lays under the cab. If you don't get the front to rear angle of the donor frame correct, the angle of the motor will not be correct. Record those angles. You will use it to set up your front clip by making a fixture to hold the suspension at the angle you recorded. When you do it this way, the front suspension is at ride height when you get done. You will put the centerline of the front spindle at the height off the pad that you want for whatever tire you want to use, for instance 14 inches for a 28 inch tire.
All 2wd generations of the Dakota were/are coil spring front suspension.
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